Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red-knobbed Coot near Faro

A Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata) in "Ludo", Parque Natural da Ria Formosa, near Faro today (14-02-2012). The bird had been discovered by Joost Falkenburg earlier this winter. Not the first time this species shows up in the area, but not easy to detect them among all the Common Coots (Fulica atra). These birds can be best found by the blue-grey hue of the bill (instead of the pinkish hue on Common Coot). Also the black feathering in front of the eye extends less towards the bill, than on the commoner species, where it forms a black "spike" towards the bill (rounded and less pointed there on Red-knobbed Coot). The red "bulbs" on this one here are comparatively small and easy to overlook - I suppose it is a "first winter". The lower/flat back and the often "fluffy" rump, might also be a hint to spot these rare birds among the hundreds of Coots. Only about 200-300 pairs nest in Europe, most of them in Andalusia, southern Spain. Last year, two pairs nested in the Alentejo-region in South Portugal, one of them on a small pool, in a mixed pair with a Common Coot, which produced one (hybrid) offspring. Some birds origin from the Doñana-National Park in Andalusia have been marked with a white plastic neck-colar, with a code. But not all Coots marked like this are "cristata", since also the Common ones get a neck-ring when trapped in the procedure...

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